Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat Cancels San Francisco State University Lecture Over ‘Continuing Marginalization, Demonization of Jewish State’
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced Wednesday that he was cancelling his return lecture at San Francisco State University (SFSU), scheduled for the following day, on the grounds that the school made “no legitimate effort…to publicize” the “limited event,” thereby “contribut[ing] to the continuing marginalization and demonization of the Jewish state.”
In a statement posted on Twitter the day before his scheduled appearance, Barkat said that he had felt a “moral obligation” to return to SFSU following last April’s major protest of his talk, but administrators had failed to arrange a program “that would provide the kind of healing needed after the assault on free speech.”
“If I were a representative of any other country, no institution of higher learning would have allowed my speech to be drowned out by protestors inciting violence and then bring me back to campus in a limited, secluded way,” the mayor wrote.
According to SFSU student newspaper the Golden Gate Xpress, Barkat’s re-do lecture was announced a mere week before he was set to speak, with the opportunity to reserve tickets ending only a few days later. Nevertheless, the paper said, more than 100 people booked spots.
The San Francisco Examiner reported that SFSU President Leslie Wong wrote in an email to the campus community that when he had extended the invitation to Barkat to return, he requested that the mayor inform him of his arrival three weeks in advance. However, he said, the school only received confirmation on March 29 that Barkat planned to arrive on April 6.
“Given the short notice of his visit, we quickly put together a plan that prioritized the safety of the mayor and our community while facilitating respectful dialogue,” Wong wrote, adding, “My invitation was sincere.”
According to Golden Gate Xpress, members of SFSU’s Hillel — the host of last year’s Barkat event, which was shouted down by anti-Israel demonstrators — wrote in a letter to Wong that this year’s hastily thrown together plan, arranged without student group involvement, amounted to a “reckless political stunt.”
In a statement posted Monday on Facebook, the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM) — self-described as a “grassroots movement of young Palestinians in Palestine and exiled worldwide as a result of the on-going Zionist colonization and occupation of our homeland” — called on followers to “get ethnic cleanser Nir Barkat out of SFSU,” and demanded that the administration rescind the invitation.
Neither PYM nor SFSU’s General Union of Palestinian Students immediately responded to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment.